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Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s laudation address at the presentation to Kornel Morawiecki of the Hungarian Order of Merit, Commander’s Cross with Star

Honourable President, Prime Minister, Dear Polish Friends,

Before making my official laudation address, I would like to make three personal comments. In European politics there are many forms of gathering at which we are able to come together as we have done here today. But there is no gathering in Europe where friendship is as tangible as when Poles and Hungarians are together. The flood of fellow feeling with which Poles and Hungarians can fill a room is unknown elsewhere in Europe today. It entices us with the hope that the Holy Spirit is also at work in politics. My second comment is military in nature. The President’s son and I have just come from observing a military exercise, and I was reminded of my years as a soldier. I clearly remember that in December 1981 we privates were deployed to a forward area, where we were supplied with weapons and live ammunition, and where we had to wait for a day and a half, unaware of what was going on. And when we returned to barracks, we found out that there had been a military coup in Poland. And God saved us Hungarian soldiers from being sent to Poland, as Hungarian soldiers had been sent to Czechoslovakia in 1968. And my third personal comment, Mr. Morawiecki, is that one rarely meets part of one’s university curriculum face to face. In our specialist college in the 1984–85 academic year we had a semi-official course on the history of Central European resistance movements, and in it we learned about Solidarity. It was then that I first read your name, and it was also then that I first heard about Fighting Solidarity. I am delighted to now be able to meet the subject of my studies in person. Back then I asked my tutor about the multi-faceted nature of Poland’s Solidarity resistance and its many currents. “Which of these”, I asked, “is closest to us?” The reply was this: “Morawiecki – he’s our man”. And now I would like to make my official laudation address.

Honourable President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

A few months after the tanks first swept through the streets of Poland, the following proclamation appeared on the front page of one of Fighting Solidarity’s news sheets. These are its strong and determined words: “Why are we fighting? To win. To protect the weakest, and those stricken by poverty, hunger and imprisonment. So that we shall not live in slavery. To remain faithful to the traditions of our fathers and grandfathers. For your freedom and ours. To show the world that it is possible to resist what is bad and to resist violence”. This was 1982, and the fall of communism was nowhere in sight. Fighting Solidarity, led by you, set itself goals such as the breakup of the Soviet Union, the establishment of a reunified Germany, and restoration of the freedom of the countries of Central Europe. At that time such words could cost one dearly. And indeed even in the free West such thoughts rarely entered people’s heads. Westerners were convinced that the Soviet Union and communism would exist for many more decades. Those who refused to accept this drew strength from your struggle. Thanks to you and your brothers-in-arms, one was constantly reminded that communism could not be repaired, could not be reformed, could not be given a human face, and that its crimes had to be brought to light. We young Hungarians looked to you. When later we formed our own organisation, we also had to decide how radical we should be; and we decided to be as radical as you and the organisation you led. Because those who want to demolish a wall, must first take all their wrecking equipment. Exactly as you did.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Fighting Solidarity always said and did what was needed, and in a form that everyone could understand. Thanks to you all – and to you personally – this culture of courageous action and clear speech still exists in Poland today, and also remains in Hungary to some extent. We know all too well that nations in this part of Europe must always keep their eyes open. Your legendary Marshal said: “To be defeated and not submit is victory; to be victorious and rest on one’s laurels is defeat”. This is how the Polish and Hungarian freedom fighters fought, this is how the Home Army fought, and this is how you in Fighting Solidarity served as an example to us all. And it is in this spirit that we continue to work today.

Honourable President,

Awarding decorations is usually about honouring those who are presented with them. The situation now is the reverse: it is my honour to present you with this Order of Merit for your friendship and support of Hungary. In the name of the Hungarian people, I wish you much strength and good health. May God bless you!